Monday, January 12, 2009

Returning to the kitchen

One of my recent goals is to get back to cooking. No, I don't eat "box" food all the time. And I used to cook all the time. Then I got out of the habit of cooking full meals. For awhile, I did the "eat a big lunch" and small dinner thing. But lately, the food at the office cafeteria bores me and I'm way too lazy to go out to eat all the time (plus, restaurant portions are too big and it gets expensive!).

But, I like cooking. I like fussing with herbs and trying new recipes. Or revisiting old recipes.
A few things that I cooked in the last month or so:

Carmelized clementine and chocolate tart: I don't bake often, but this recipe in the Sunday paper caught my eye. I actually made the crust (most unusual for me, I'm not a pastry chef!) and overall the tart came out well. Crust could have been rolled a bit thinner, I ended up using rice instead of beans as pie weights (didn't have beans in the house), and the clementine preparation took a lot longer and more effort than I anticipated. But overall, not bad. I also baked a lemon pound cake. It was slightly underdone, but was received well when I brought it to a friend's house for dinner.

I also did a very nice roast chicken with my new pottery vertical chicken roaster. I need to get a better meat thermometer, though. The one I had didn't register the temperature properly and the chicken was slightly underdone. Nothing a visit to the microwave couldn't fix.

Last night, I made tomato sauce. I had tomatoes from the summer harvest in the freezer. I managed to put together a very nice sauce based on my recollection of my favorite tomato sauce recipe. I didn't bother to look for the recipe, just dredged up the basics from the shadowy corners of my mind. Let's see...saute onions in a stock pot until slightly brown. You could also add some carrots for sweetness (or sugar). I didn't have any, so I skipped this (actually, I forgot about it). But the tomotoes were sweet enough. I didn't need to add anything on the sweet side.

Next, add several cloves of chopped garlic. Saute for another minute. Then add plenty of herbs: oregano, basil, thyme, black pepper, and crushed red pepper. Add about a cup of red wine and simmer for 15 minutes or so. Then add the tomatoes, a can of tomato paste, some broth (I used vegetable broth). I also added some parmesan/romano cheese. Simmer for at least an hour. More is OK.

The end result looks and smells quite yummy. Now I need to cook something that needs tomato sauce. Or, I'll freeze the sauce for future use.

No comments: